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Some diseases, especially infectious diseases like intestinal parasites, are commonly seen in the tropics but not in Europe or North America.

Some diseases, especially immune-mediated diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and some allergic or hypersensitivity disorders, are seen mostly in developed countries rather than in tropical, develping nations.

Recently, a connection has been made between these two differing disease patterns. There is reason to believe that some tropical infections may, in fact, protect against immune-mediated illnesses, such as Crohn's disease, allergic rhinitis, and others. For example, studies now demonstrate that Crohn's disease can be controlled with intentional ("therapeutic") innoculations with well-chosen intestinal parasites.

Begining in 2004, Tinea suix (a pig whipworm that is not a human parasite) became available in Europe to treat disabling illnesses such as Crohn's colitis. This biotherapeutic treatment is sometimes called "helminth therapy," or "helmintherapy," although this term is not very specific. T. suix is only the latest, not the first, intestinal worm to be used therapeutically. Tapeworms, for example, were used 100 years ago as a weight-loss treatment. Further studies with other parasites and other immuneological disorders are now underway.

Here are some helpful resources:

Hunter & McKay: Helminths as therapeutic agents for inflammatory bowel disease. Aliment-Pharmacol-Ther. 2004 Jan 15; 19(2): 167-77.

Hanauer SB: Evolving Biologic Therapies for IBD (Medscape Conference Coverage, based on selected sessions at the: Digestive Disease Week 2004; May 15 - 20, 2004, New Orleans, Louisiana)

Diet of worms can cure bowel disease.

Porcine Whipworm Ova Safe for Treatment of IBD.

Information can be found also in our Reference page and our Links page.

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